We all love stories about scrappy underdogs who overcome the odds and make it big through relentless hard work, unwavering grit, and sheer force of will. However, the stories about how some of the richest and most powerful people made their millions (and billions) are too romanticized and gloss over some very important details.
That’s the point that Aidan Smith made in a viral Twitter thread where he explained how Jeff Bezos and others had a huge leg-up when it came to helping lay the foundations of their business empires. Namely—having families with lots of money.
Aidan told Bored Panda that the US isn't the only country where a lot of people believe myths about businessmen while the truth is a Google search away. "It's far from a U.S.-exclusive phenomenon, but in America, it's easier for most people to imagine becoming a billionaire themselves than it is to imagine an economic order in which a handful of people own half the world's wealth. Social mobility from working-class to middle-class is increasingly out of reach and the illusion that one can conceivably amass a net worth of over a billion dollars is a comforting fantasy for many people." Scroll down for the rest of the interview.
Aidan told us that he has a decent-sized following and is used to his posts going moderately viral. "But I'm pleasantly surprised by how much of an impact this tweet in particular had."
According to him, believing that certain famous billionaires are self-made when they might not be is harmful for a variety of reasons. "For one, even in the rare cases in which people from working-class backgrounds amass exorbitant wealth, it's still not 'self-made' given that amassing wealth on that scale will always have come from ruthless exploitation of others."
While Bezos may have started Amazon in his parents’ garage when he was 30, people tend to focus on this part, not the fact that his parents invested 245,573 dollars in Amazon in 1995, nor that Bezos worked in Wall Street before committing to Amazon.
Bloomberg found that if Bezos’ parents kept all of their holdings in the company, their shares would have been worth around 30 billion dollars in 2018.
As of now, it’s unclear how much of the stock Jackie and Mike Bezos still own. They could secretly be among the world’s wealthiest 30 people (possibly even ahead of Elon Musk at the time).
Bezos and others might be successful, talented, dedicated, and not afraid to take risks (nobody is trying to diminish their accomplishments or effort) but they’re not entirely self-made.
Aidan’s thread definitely got the internet’s attention: it got more than 489k likes, nearly 150k retweets, and started a discussion.
Some people were surprised to learn some of the things that Aidan shared on Twitter. Others fully agreed with his message. Meanwhile, some Twitter users questioned why people are getting upset at people becoming successful, even if they did use their parents’ money. To which some internet users responded that fake underdog stories lead to poor people being told it’s their own fault for not becoming rich.